For the second time this month, a local businessman was slapped with a federal prison sentence for ripping off clients.
Larry Jay Horsey, a licensed insurance agent in Chesterfield who also marketed himself as a financial advisor, was sentenced Friday in Richmond federal court to 90 months in prison for defrauding nine investors out of $1.9 million.
Handed down by U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson, the 90-month sentence is longer than was requested by both federal prosecutors and Horsey’s attorney.
Horsey, 41, and Richmond attorney John Luxton argued for a 78-month sentence, citing his lack of a criminal record and the remorse he showed for his victims, according to court filings.
Horsey’s actions were explained in court documents as a case that snowballed from initially using a client’s money as a short-term loan to, in the end, taking money from nine clients for nearly four years.
“Horsey’s actions began as many who embezzle or steal. He thought he could repay the money when business was better,” his attorney said in court documents. “Each successive fraudulent act occurred with the same intent of repayment until it was obvious repayment could never be made.”
Horsey found his victims through Heroes Academy, a nonprofit he founded as a financial education school and financial management company. It touted a desire to make “debt-free millionaires” in seminars that stressed the importance of saving money, court documents show. He convinced nine individuals to open what they believed would be investment or savings accounts, using annuities or Roth IRAs.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office asked for an 84-month sentence, detailing Horsey’s use of the stolen funds for his own purposes, including vacations to Florida and Hawaii, traveling to sporting events and supporting a local semipro football team.
To cover his tracks, prosecutors said Horsey created fake documents made to look like they were from banks, the IRS and a fake website. That included fake bank statements to give to SEC investigators when questioned about his business.
“He gained his victims’ trust in order to defraud them – and when he took their savings, it was not in a faceless online transaction, an arms-distance deal,” the government argued. “He sat across their kitchen tables and in their churches, and promised that he knew what he was doing when they handed him their checks.”
Prosecutors noted that Horsey began taking steps to alert federal authorities to his actions prior to them searching his home and that he admitted his guilt, was cooperative and took responsibility for his actions.
Horsey’s sentence also includes three years of supervised release and a restitution payment of $1.76 million to the victims.
Court records say Horsey has contacted his business insurance carriers with the hope that there is some coverage for the losses.
Horsey pleaded guilty Dec. 14, the same week that local investment advisor Troy Baldridge pleaded guilty in an unrelated case that charged he defrauded clients of $500,000.
Baldridge was sentenced March 10 to 41 months in federal prison.